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(Newington, N.H.)  - U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen visited Pease Air National Guard base today to receive an update from New Hampshire Air National Guard officials and continue her support of Pease as the ideal location for the new KC-46A refueling tanker. The Air Force announced last month that Pease – home to the 157th Air Refueling Wing – was one of five finalists to receive the next generation tanker. Air Force officials visited Pease last week to assess the base’s qualifications.

“The men and women of the 157th have successfully provided continuous support for refueling missions critical to homeland defense and overseas missions, all at a fraction of the price of our active duty units,” Shaheen said. “Under any objective basing criteria, Pease is a clear and cost-effective choice to house the new tankers because of its strategic location near air refueling flight paths, experience with current tanker task force missions and unique cost-effective integration of guard members and active duty Air Force personnel. I am committed to working with the Air Force to ensure that Pease Air National Guard base continues to provide the best tanker support in the Air National Guard.”

Shaheen, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has been vocal in support of Pease and led a letter last week to Air Force General Mark Welsh highlighting Pease’s unique qualifications. In meetings and hearings with Air Force and Pentagon officials, she has repeatedly praised the New Hampshire Air National Guard’s 157th Air Refueling Wing and has pushed for objective and transparent basing criteria to decide where to station the new tankers. The 157th Air Refueling recently received the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for the 11th time.

In addition to citing Pease’s proximity to operational and training refueling tracks, its aircraft-related infrastructure and its training flight simulator, Shaheen also highlighted that Pease is the only one of the five bases under consideration that has an active duty associate already stationed, meaning that Pease is home to both Air Guard and active duty Air Force units. The associate’s presence helps the Air Force and Air Guard accomplish their integration goals.  While the Air Force may plan to develop active duty associates at all KC-46A bases, the process of doing so will take significant time and resources. As a base with a long-standing and high performing active duty associate, Pease offers clear advantages over bases that lack similar organizations.

The Air Force will conduct detailed, on-the-ground site surveys of each candidate base to assess each location against operational and training requirements, potential impacts to existing missions, housing, infrastructure, and manpower.  Once the site surveys are complete, the Air Force will select preferred and reasonable alternative locations and begin an Environmental Impact Analysis Process in the spring of 2013.  The selected Air National Guard base will receive aircraft beginning in fiscal year 2018.